Virus will hit public coffers

Gwen Chamberlain

Yates County officials are keeping a close eye on the local financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recent report to the county legislature, Yates County Administrator Nonie Flynn said, “The economic impact to Yates County from the Coronavirus is going to be huge.”

Flynn reports the loss of  sales tax revenue is predicted by the New York State Association of Counties to be anywhere from 8%, or $1.1 million to 15%, or just over $2 million.  

“Coupled with that loss, we again will be footing the bill for the AIM (Aid and Incentives to Municipalities) payments to towns and villages this year, which amounts to $168,000 taken from our sales tax revenue. 

In addition, the county expects to take a hit from the adopted state budget for 2021.

Flynn says more than $80,000 from the county’s sales tax revenue will be diverted to go into the fiscally distressed hospital and nursing home pool, and the state budget director has the executive authority to cut state aid provided to counties by about 15%, which for Yates County would amount to more than $1.2 million. 

Flynn was able to report a glimmer of hope in a sales tax disbursement report received by the county April 13. The first quarter reconciliation was a healthy one for Yates County at just over $3 million, which is 19% over the same period one year ago, she says. 

Flynn attributes the increase to electronic shopping and mail-order houses. 

A few legislators showed their concern about the potential fiscal stress when it came time to vote on grants from the Natural and Recreational Resource Protection funds. 

After a motion to postpone voting on the grants failed, the legislators approved a grant of nearly $25,000 for the Yates Community Center’s recreational park project, and one for $19,000 to the Finger Lakes Museum and Aquarium wetlands trail project. Ed Bronson, Carlie Chilson, Jim Multer, Terry Button, and Tim Cutler voted against the grants.